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"Music knows no boundaries and has no religion" - Sunday

Lata Mangeshkar ()
14-20 September 1997

Title: "Music knows no boundaries and has no religion"
Author: Lata Mangeshkar
Publication: Sunday
Date: September 14-20, 1997

"I will always be there with my music to do anything I can for the film
industry and the country. I want to see a Ram Rajya, a world where we can
all live in harmony"

Q: For 50 years, your voice has remained more or less the same, the same
sweetness and melody. What is the secret?

A: There's no secret, it's a gift from God. Of course, I have worked hard

Q: It's been 50 years of Independence, and you've been singing since the
midnight hour. Any special memories of 15 August, 1947?

A: Memories are still there, and they are still fresh. My father was a
great patriot. He respected Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Veer Savarkar, Gandhiji.

We used to live in Sangli and a Harijan girl used to clean our pathway.
Once she got chicken pox, and her eyes were affected. My father had her
operated but her eyes couldn't be saved. He then went to her basti and
helped her open a shop. In our household, we never thought about caste or
untouchability. I had seen all this because I went everywhere with him, and
it has inspired me in my own belief system. I used to also go and hear
Gandhiji at Shivaji Park, speeches of Nehru. So, yes, I was very influenced
by the Freedom Movement.

Q: Is that why you have a particular affection for patriotic songs?

A: Yes, I'm very patriotic. I can never forget my country wherever I am.
And through my music, I am ready to do whatever I can for my country.

Q: During the 1962 Indo-China war, you sang Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon. What do
you think is so special about that song that makes it so appealing even
today? A: Well, I think the main thing is that the song was written so
well. At that time, the country was in a terrible condition. Nehru was
visibly depressed. I guess the circumstances in which the song was composed
made it unique. Panditji had tears in his eyes when I sang it, but I
didn't know that till much later.

Q: Did you also break down?

A: Well, I didn't cry, but I felt very emotional when I saw Panditji. There
was this pain in my heart which-just wouldn't go away.

Q: And today, when you have sung in a Parliament that does not have tall
leaders like Nehru and Patel, do you feel any different?

A: Well, I'm still happy and proud to have been asked to sing on such an
important occasion. But yes, sometimes when I see what is happening around
me in the country, I do feel a little depressed. I've seen the days of the
British Raj, and I recall how inspired we felt when the country achieved
Independence. We were ready to die for the country.

Today, I sense that the spirit of sacrifice is no longer there among our
leaders and people. I find that there is an air of mutual distrust among
our people, divisions along the lines of caste and community. I want to see
a Ram Rajya, a world where we can all live in harmony.

Q: Let's switch back to your music. Your songs are heard in India and
Pakistan. Do you believe that music knows no boundaries?

A: Yes, I believe that music knows no boundaries and has no religion. I
consider music to be the voice of God. I've sung all over the world to
people of all nationalities. I've received the same love and appreciation
from Pakistanis and Bangladeshis that I have from Indians.

Q: In the thousands of songs that you've sung over the years, do you have
any special favourites? A: Well, I like my non-film songs better,
particularly songs from Meera, from Ghalib, my ghazals, the Bhagvad Gita
and some of my Marathi songs.

Q: Any favourite actress who you enjoyed singing for?

A: Yes. I liked Meena Kumari a lot, Nargis, Nutan and Saira Banu. When
they sang my songs on screen, they did full justice to the music.

Q: Do you feel that the golden age of music is over? That music, today, has

A: Well, yes. Earlier, every music director worked hard to evolve his own
distinctive style. Now, every director has the same style. The lyrics are
also very bad. There's too much violence in our films, and when the films
are bad, the music will also be bad.

Q: How do you view the Channel V generation and its new music?

A: I don't like it. I belong to an older generation. In films today, the
hero and heroine will be singing and suddenly hundreds of identically
dressed people come on the screen. Songs are now composed to accommodate
dance sequences. Earlier, each song told its own story. The dresses are
becoming scantier and the men all look and dance like Michael Jackson. I
don't like what is happening.

Q: And where does Lata Mangeshkar see herself in this changing world?

A: Well, my music will always be there, and as I told you, I will always be
there with my music to do anything I can for the film industry and the

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